Current Recipient

Tonya C. Bates, SEnior Lecturer

Department of Biological Sciences

Tonya Bates is a UNC Charlotte alumni, a Senior Lecturer, and a pioneer and leader within the Department of Biological Sciences in incorporating active learning, inquiry-based learning and technology in the classroom.  Her courses, including high-enrollment, general education classes for non-majors, are strongly student-centered and focus on real-world applications and scientific literacy in an effort to better connect students with the material.

“Since 2010, I’ve taught biology to over 5,000 students. Each of these students has provided an opportunity to reflect on why I do things the way I do, inside and outside of the classroom. Despite the large class size and barriers, my teaching remains student centered. It’s my goal to lead all my courses diversely so that students have multiple opportunities and avenues for grasping the material,” Bates said.

By adopting a flipped classroom and other active learning approaches and by using learning assistants in large classes, her students benefit by opportunities to work collaboratively and to receive individual assistance. Instead of listening to lectures, students are engaged in low-stakes formative assessments.

“Active learning is something Tonya incorporated in her classroom long before we were all talking about it. She has worked tirelessly on re-designing Biology courses for majors and non-science majors and made these courses interactive and collaborative. Her outstanding teaching and her critical changes in our curriculum have led to better student learning outcomes in our department,” wrote Pinku Mukherjee, Professor and Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences.

Bates, who received both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UNC Charlotte, facilitates workshops for middle and high school science teachers, serves as a judge for K-12 science fairs, volunteers with the regional Science Olympiad competition, and serves on UNC Charlotte’s Science and Technology Expo planning committee.  She also has extended her impact through training and mentoring University faculty.